International Travel

Hey all, I’m looking for some advice on international travel.
I’m a US citizen traveling outside of the country in December, the first time I will do so since being diagnosed with Type 1.
I’m traveling to Israel and Turkey, and not all the hotels I’m staying at will have refrigerators or mini-bars in the rooms to keep my insulin cold. Any tips? I’ve been looking at the Medi-Micro Fridge, but it doesn’t look quite big enough to hold insulin vials (for the pump) and pens (as backup), so I would need to get two. Does anyone have any great revelations that would help me? Any tips for traveling internationally that I haven’t thought of? Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Check out Frio insulin packs! They are amazing - water activated, reusable, compact, non-gel based (so safe for planes). They kept my pens cool through Thailand, Honduras, and DC summers. Also, on one very hot jungle trek, it worked very well as a neck cooling thing.

They come in all different sizes and are probably my favorite diabetes find. Except for my pump.

Israel and Turkey sound like great places to go. The Medi-Micro Fridge looks great.

Most insulins do not require refrigeration. Most are quite stable after opened for 30 days at room temp. (under 86 deg F). Read the package insert for specifics.

When flying, medication and my diabetes stuff alway travel in my carry-on bag.

Here’s a story about a US soldier with type 1 diabetes who used the Frio in slightly warm Iraq.
Back From Iraq: A Soldier’s Story

Lantus went bad when I took it with me in the Frio. I’ve never seen Novolog go bad, even five months outside the fridge, and wouldn’t worry about it in December in Israel (I haven’t been to Turkey). It’s not gonna be sweltering, and it might even be freezing. I would not worry about keeping Novolog outside the fridge for a month or even two months of travel in Israel and Turkey.
Remember to bring a prescription just in case.

I went to Egypt in December of 2005 and just carried my humalog in my purse with me (I did leave it at the hotel when I could). I didn’t do anything special for it and it was fine. I don’t bother refridgerating my insulin after I open it while at home either and I have never had problems.

Considering the time of year you’re going, I can’t imagine it being so hot that you would need to have it in a cooler the whole time. Insulin is fine in normal temperatures, just as long as you don’t go above room temperature for long periods of time. When I went to France in 2003, it was during their heat wave. We had one of those cool packs with us, though it would eventually melt until we could freeze it again. When that happened, we just asked for a glass and filled it with cold water and stuck the bottles in there. I also kept the insulin bottles on the tile floor because that was the coolest place. Anyway, I pretty much agree with everyone else as far as not needing for fridge it or anything, but there are my suggestions in case you feel otherwise.

I agree with all the previous posters that mentioned the frio cooling packs. I took them with me to Mexico in July, and my pens did quite well (I wasn’t pumping then). I purchased mine through Amazon, but I’m sure most online diabetes stores offer them.

When I traveled, I got a letter from my doc confirming that I had diabetes and that it was necessary for my needles and other supplies to travel in my personal carry-on luggage. I don’t think anybody ever asked for it, but it might be a nice thing to keep on hand. Also, you have the right to request to be scanned by a person rather than the large metal detector, and you have a right to have your insulin inspected by hand rather than sent through the x-ray machine. I think both of those options are definitely personal choices, but something about having my insulin go through the x-ray machine made me uneasy.

Other than that, the only thing I can think of is adjusting your basal rate (or at the very least your pump clock) for the time difference. And be aware that the stress of flying may up your sugar levels a bit, especially if you tend to get nervous before flights.

I haven’t yet traveled internationally since I was diagnosed either, but am planning a trip to Italy next year. I think the advice everyone has had is great! I have done some US travel though and would agree that a note from your doctor, plus copies of your prescriptions would be a good idea. I know my sugars went higher while flying because I’m a nervous flyer, yours may too. I can’t really think of anything else. Have a fantastic time and post after the trip to tell everyone how it went!

i worked and travelled throughout east and southeast asia for about two years as a type 1 and would definitely recommend checking out the hospital/pharmacy situation in whatever cities you’ll be in (or at least flying in and out of, if you’re not going to be staying in the city for the duration of your trip). this will make things easier if something unexpected should arise (my purse was stolen when i was in thailand, for example, and it was great knowing exactly where to go and what they had!). also, if you’re not up on your hebrew or turkish, you might want to look up a few key phrases like “i’m a diabetic,” or “i need a doctor/hospital,” etc. oh, and DEFINITELY bring an extra meter with you! you never know when these things’ll decide to go on the fritz and you don’t want to be stranded without one (the extra one i brough with me ended up not working after my purse was stolen, so maybe i should have brought two extras!).

i hope you enjoy your travels!

I’ve traveled quite a bit with my pump and supplies. I’m with Courtney and be sure to take an extra meter! Your local friendly TSA people are usually great. I always tell them I have an Insulin pump and get the “personal” search. No grief from them yet!!
Learn the key phrases you might need. This also helps you to identify your pump to the “Special/medical” need people at the port of entry at your destination airport. (The line is usually really short too)
I have used the Frio on the trips over but have always had ice/refrigeration once I get there.
My two cents…
Best, John


I dont know where you will be in Israel but in December in most places, except Eilat and the dead sea for the most part if you cant get a fridge, and if you ask at the desk they should be able to get you a room with one, open your window and put your stuff on the ledge, it is cold enough at night that nature can double as a fridge.

Turkey - I think most area will be able to double as a fridge out of doors as well, only been there twice and both time to Istanbul both times it was cool.

Make sure to take copies of your perscriptions, in block letters, printed not cursive to both of these countries. Paper written in cursive in Turkey will not help you, in israel you may get lucky, but by in large people there except americans etc can not read cursive or connectted - in the vernacular, writing.

if you need specific info about Israel you can email me off list - dont know how to do that but I am from there so I can probally help.

You can also call your pump company and get a lender pump to pack (for a back up plan) I know Animas does it. And I believe Medtronic. I’m not sure of the others.

This story shocked me. I was denied becoming a soldier due to my T1 diabetes. I would let the recruiter go through the whole spill, then at the end ask them if diabetes would affect my chances and they would appologise for wasting my time and that was it.